September 24 CFB DFS Picks: If We Had a McNichols For Every TD
Welcome to Thursday’s edition of the Daily Fantasy Rundown with “RealestChrisKay” and “TheNumbersGuy.” Each week we break down the largest college football slates to give you the best top, value, and cheap plays based on the Daily Fantasy Industry’s pricing for salary cap games. The goal of our analysis is to help you improve consistency and become a better player long-term.
If there’s something you’d like to see added or have any questions, please email us at email@example.com.
*Rankings are out of a possible 128 schools
**Advanced statistics courtesy of Football Outsiders
***Target statistics courtesy of NCAA Savant
Cincinnati @ Memphis
Game Total: o/u 66.5
Cincinnati Team Total: o/u 28.5
Memphis Team Total: o/u 38.5
Spread: Memphis -9.5
This game has the highest game total of the slate (65) and the highest team total (37) as well. The Memphis Tigers are fresh off of a big win against Bowling Green State, a game in which they scored 44 points. In their two previous outings they put up 63 against Missouri State and 55 against Kansas. This is an offense to target, but the way they spread out their touchdowns can be frustrating for DFS players. Memphis’ best athlete is Paxton Lynch, a 6’7 quarterback with a great arm. He has been incredibly accurate in 2015 (76.6% completion rate) with 818 yards, but thus far, has recorded just six touchdowns in three games. He might not throw many touchdowns (two per game so far in 2015), but he is a safe target on DraftKings with his 300+ yard passing potential. Lynch has thrown for 354 and 386 yards in his two FBS matchups this season. Lynch may be difficult to into your roster on a short slate, but he is an extremely safe option given his floor. If you’re trying to gain exposure to the Tigers’ passing game, but not break the bank, target Memphis’ receivers. Mose Frazier is the top target for Lynch. He leads the team in receptions (17), targets (23), and yardage (232). The Tigers’ offense spreads the ball around (nine different players involved on 20 touchdowns in 2015), so we consider Frazier to be an elite cash play across the industry, but with little upside as a result. Beyond Frazier, there is some debate as to who the number two option is in the offense, but target stats point to Phil Mayhue. Mayhue has been targeted 14 times in FBS action. And, while he has yet to reach the end zone, he has solid PPR numbers (four catches, seven targets per FBS game in 2015). Mayhue is best utilized on DraftKings for cash games and should be considered a great value option for DFS players, given the Tigers’ Thursday night matchup with the Bearcats (Cincinnati had the 87th best passing S&P+ last season). Tevin Jones has been targeted just six times and is a high upside player with a 23.8 yards per catch and two touchdowns on his five receptions this season. While Jones is a big play performer, he faces a Cincinnati defense that was average at yielding big plays (ranked 74th in ISOPPP+ last season). Thus far in 2015, Memphis has been committed to a running back by committee approach, with four different players carrying the ball 25+ times. This makes rostering Tigers’ backs a risky proposition, but if you must have Memphis exposure in the ground game, consider Doroland Dorceus. Dorceus recorded the most carries last game (16 compared to Sam Craft’s 11) and has a reached pay dirt in each game this season. At tight end, you have two options to target: Alan Cross (28/373/4 in 2014) and Daniel Montiel (5/39/2 in 2015).
Cincinnati’s offense comes into this game banged up, with guys like Mike Boone (running back) and Mekale McKay (wide receiver) likely sitting this one out. They also have the best quarterback name in football, Gunner Kiel, likely playing, but coming into the game with a banged up shoulder and a “light” concussion. Kiel’s injuries are something to worry about in this offense because of how much he is depended upon for production. The absence of Boone and McKay aren’t nearly as painful for the Bearcats as they are deep at the running back and wide receiver positions. This offense is projected to score 28 points and those have to come from somewhere. The matchup is difficult (Memphis ranked 31st in rushing S&P+ last season), but we still like the running game in this offense. Look for the Bearcats’ offense to lean heavily on the ground game with Gunner Kiel not at 100% and their best offensive players being running backs. Memphis’ defense has struggled somewhat in 2015 against the run, giving up 4.2 plus yards per carry in their two FBS games and four touchdowns coming on the ground. Hosey Williams had 17 carries in the game against Miami (OH), while Tion Green had 19 carries. Green has been more effective this season with a touchdown and two catches per game this season, but Hosey is averaging five yards per carry. Both are fine options in cash games due to the number of touches they’re getting early in the season. While we like Green more in terms of talent and 2015 production, it’s difficult to argue against rostering Hosey on sites where his salary is lower. The wide receiver group for Cincinnati is as volatile as any we’ll see this season, and with Gunner Kiel being banged up, the only receivers we are targeting are Shaq Washington and Chris Moore. Washington leads the team in targets (31), so lean on him in cash games if you want a Cincinnati receiver. Moore is a tournament option with his big play ability (16.2 yards per catch in 2015), but he has volatile game log.
Boise State @ Virginia
Game Total: o/u 49.5
Boise State Team Total: o/u 26
Virginia Team Total: o/u 24
Spread: Boise State -2.5
Going into this game you have to love the Boise State offense. Not only have they had one more day of rest and preparation than any other team on this slate (played last Friday), the Broncos also have some of the best talent on the slate and they’re available at very affordable prices. We love this Broncos’ offense, and if there’s one guy to peg as the top play for the team it’s Jeremy McNichols. McNichols has eight touchdowns on the season and an incredible 66 percent market share of Boise’s team touchdowns. With uncertainty at the QB position due to injury, look for McNichols to garner the bulk of the attention around the goal line. It’s important to note that while McNichols is one of our favorite options Thursday night, he is solidified as our top overall play on FanDuel specifically, where he is mispriced ($7,300). It’s also important to note that Virginia has given up big numbers on the ground to their two FBS opponents so far this season (5.96 yards per carry to UCLA and Notre Dame), so we expect McNichols will be very highly owned as a result. Switching gears from ground to air, the Broncos’ offense looked good with backup QB Brett Rypien under center last week. Rypien led 4 straight scoring drives and ended the day with 126 passing yards on eight of nine passing. That said, Rypien took the reigns against Idaho State in garbage time, so it’s difficult to forecast exactly what to expect Thursday night in Charlottesville against the Cavaliers. To add to that uncertainty, there are currently reports stating a potential 70/30 or 80/20 split at QB, with Rypien getting most snaps over other Broncos backup, Thomas Stuart. Rypien is priced as a core value play on DraftKings and Fantasy Aces, but is an easy fade on FanDuel due to the one quarterback format and looser pricing. The quarterback play from Broncos’ 2015 starting QB Ryan Finley (injured) in the first two games wasn’t impressive, so the loss of Finley for this game doesn’t necessarily hurt wide receivers like Thomas Sperbeck or Shane Williams-Rhodes. These two receivers are priced nearly identical on every DFS site, so we’re targeting Williams-Rhodes, the elite PPR option.
Virginia’s offensive players to target in this matchup are Taquan Mizzell, Canaan Severin, and T.J. Thorpe. Mizzell could have his worst matchup of the year on Friday against Boise State. Boise State ranked 30th in rushing S&P+ last season, and in 2015 they’ve been dominant. They’re allowing just 1.65 yards per carry (83 carries) and have given up just two touchdowns on the ground this year. Mizzell is priced amongst the top running backs, making him an easy fade, even on this small slate. UVA’s passing game can be leveraged in both cash and tournament formats with receivers like Severin and Thorpe. Severin is a talented player who has posted consecutive games with good production (11/153/0 vs Notre Dame and 5/58/0 at UCLA). He has been the top target for Cavaliers’ QB, Matt Johns, with 29 targets (Mizzell has had 25 targets this season and the next best total comes in at nine). Though Severin is a talented option, his matchup is tough. Boise State ranked 33rd in passing S&P+ last season – and in 2015 only allows 5.9 yards per attempt with a 2:4 TD to INT ratio. So as a result, Severin’s mid-range price across the industry makes him a tournament play. Using T.J. Thorpe in cash games makes perfect sense. He is minimally price across the board, and as a starter for the Cavaliers, he’ll be the number two target in the offense Thursday night. While he’s coming off an injury, he did receive some snaps in last week’s game against William and Mary. Thorpe had an amazing spring and fall with the team, so there is a good bit of anticipation coming into this matchup against Boise State.
Stanford @ Oregon State
Stanford Team Total: (N/A)
Oregon State Team Total: (N/A)
Spread: Stanford -15.5
The Stanford vs. Oregon State game has a lot of potential for production, but there are a few question marks that leave us hanging (quarterback health & team totals). The biggest of all questions is the health of Stanford quarterback, Kevin Hogan. He is currently questionable for the game, leaving backup QB Keller Chryst as the potential starter. The Oregon State defense has been good against the pass in 2015 (4.7 yards per attempt; 1:4 TD to INT ratio), and while their opponents have been weak (Weber State, Michigan, and San Jose State), the numbers are undeniable, even going back to last season where the Beavers ranked 37th in passing S&P+. So why do we like Chryst? Since Chryst is the cheapest starting quarterback on this slate, he factors in as a strategic option on DraftKings and Fantasy Aces, which makes room for our top play, Jeremy McNichols (Boise State) in your lineups. The lack of depth at quarterback (Memphis’ Paxton Lynch is the only safe quarterback option) makes it easy to go cheap at the position and spend elsewhere. While we don’t have game or team totals at this point, the spread is high (Stanford -15.5), so Vegas thinks Stanford will roll by more than two touchdowns. Our favorite target in the Cardinal offense is Christian McCaffrey, the pass catching running back who is heavily relied upon. He has had 17, 24, and 29 touches in the last three games of the season. With a young quarterback like Chryst likely starting, McCaffrey is going to be heavily relied upon for offensive output. While Oregon’s defense is solid through the air, they matchup very unfavorably against Stanford’s running game. Quite frankly, it doesn’t get much better for the Cardinal running backs. Oregon State’s defense ranked 117th in rushing S&P+ in 2014 and they’ve given up six rushing touchdowns on 84 rushing attempts against FBS opponents in 2015. Add it all together and McCaffrey comes in as our second favorite option on this slate. When it comes to the passing game for Stanford, we can only recommend their tight end, Austin Hooper, as a great option. We love him in all formats on DraftKings and in tournaments on FanDuel. On FanDuel, the salary relief at the tight end position is vital to getting the top options at quarterback and running back, so we are passing on him in cash games.
Oregon State’s offense is one to target in tournaments only, due to their formidable matchup (Stanford ranked 5th in defensive S&P+ last season; dominant in games against Northwestern and UCF this season) and their lack of consistency on offense so far this season. Seth Collins is a top tier tournament option at quarterback because of his rushing ability (294 rushing yards on 44 carries), but doesn’t get the kind of passing usage we’d typically desire out of a quarterback, averaging just 20 attempts per game in 2015. Victor Bolden and Jordan Villamin possess the ability to be elite receiver options, but the lack of passing in the Oregon State offense mutes their potential. They are one and two on the team in targets (Villamin – 20, Bolden – 18), but 6-7 targets per game isn’t much to get excited about, especially in cash games. The game flow should force Oregon State to pass more (Stanford is a 16 point favorite), so there is inherent potential for an increase in targets for both Bolden and Villamin . Villamin is our favorite of the two options because of his big play ability (16.5 yards per catch in 2014; 14.1 yards per catch in 2015) and his cheaper price tag.